Tuesday 16 July 2019

'We are with you' - Football world pays tribute after body of Emiliano Sala recovered from plane wreck

Emiliano Sala had been en route to new club Cardiff City. Photo: Thibalt Camus
Emiliano Sala had been en route to new club Cardiff City. Photo: Thibalt Camus
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Footballers led tributes to Emiliano Sala after his body was recovered from the English Channel and formally identified.

Fellow sporting stars reacted to confirmation of his death, which came almost three weeks after his plane crashed en route from Nantes, France, to Cardiff.

The light aircraft was piloted by David Ibbotson, who has not been found.

Cardiff City Football Club, to which Sala had recently signed for a club record £15m (€17m), said in a statement: "We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano.

"He and David will forever remain in our thoughts."

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, a fellow Argentinian, tweeted: "Rest in peace, Emiliano. My condolences to his friends and family #PrayForSala".

Argentina's president Mauricio Macri - who had joined calls for the search for the plane to be resumed after it was called off - also posted on Twitter, sending his condolences to Sala's family, adding: "We are with you".

Arsenal player Mesut Ozil wrote: "No words to describe how sad this is. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and also to the family of the pilot. #RIPsala".

Fans looking at the tributes paid to Emiliano Sala outside the Cardiff City Stadium (Mark Kerton/PA)
Fans looking at the tributes paid to Emiliano Sala outside the Cardiff City Stadium (Mark Kerton/PA)

Manchester City's Benjamin Mendy tweeted an image of Sala, while Paris Saint-Germain footballer Kylian Mbappe wrote simply: "RIP EMI".

Everton player Oumar Niasse, who is currently on loan to Cardiff City, tweeted: "RIP @EmilianoSala1 Forever in our thoughts".

The Piper Malibu N264DB plane lost contact with air traffic control over the Channel, north of Guernsey, on Monday January 21.

Sala had been travelling from Nantes in France to Cardiff, where he was due to begin training with his new club last month.

An initial search and rescue operation failed to locate the plane but it was later discovered by the British Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) and privately funded search teams.

Shipwreck hunting expert David Mearns, who assisted in the second search, said his thoughts were with the family and friends of both Sala and Mr Ibbotson.

He tweeted: "Rest in Peace Emiliano.

"I was glad to provide some small comfort to Romina, Mercedes and the whole Sala family during the past two weeks but my heart goes out to the family and friends of David Ibbotson whose loss is the same."

The aircraft remains 67 metres underwater 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey in the English Channel as poor weather conditions stopped efforts to recover it.

Dorset Police said in a statement: "The body brought to Portland Port today, Thursday February 7 2019, has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala.

"The families of Mr Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially-trained family liaison officers.

"Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.

"HM Coroner will continue to investigate the circumstances of this death supported by Dorset Police."

The AAIB has said it expects to publish an interim report within the month.


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